Currently Dick Smith is offering two dual-SIM mobile phones for sale in Australia. One is the LG T510 for $99, but it only supports GSM on each SIM. This might be a good phone for someone who needs to receive both work and personal calls and doesn’t want to carry two phones, but the lack of 3G support is a major limit on what can be done with the phone.
The other phone is the Huawei U8520 which supports 3G on one SIM and GSM on the other. It costs $249, runs Android 2.2, has a 320*480 display, and a 3.2 megapixel camera. For comparison the LG Optimus One is a single-SIM phone with similar specs that only costs $179 from TeleChoice, so there is a 40% price premium to pay for a dual-SIM phone.
When I first heard about dual-SIM phones (before they were commonly and cheaply available in Australia) I had thought that it would be a good option for using a cheap 3G broadband SIM along with a SIM for voice calls from one of the cheaper pre-paid mobile companies. But the helpful guy at Dick Smith informed me that Amaysim offers good pre-paid deals for voice and data . With 10G of data quota to be used in one year for $100 and reasonable rates on voice calls it should be easy to keep under $200 per annum if you don’t use many calls.
Rene Cunningham has described how to use a pre-paid data-only plan on the Optus network with VOIP for most outbound calls . To do that he is paying $30 every 6 months to keep his old number for inbound calls for which he gets $30 of credit, with Amaysim you can pay $10 every 3 months to get the same result with $40 per annum call cost instead of $60. As Amaysim are on the Optus network the result should be the same as long as Amaysim have enough capacity for IP data transfer. Rene uses an iPhone but the same result can be achieved with an Android phone.
If by using VOIP the cost of running a phone on Amaysim was reduced to something like $160 per annum (with a possibly optimistic aim of $20 per annum for outbound VOIP calls) then over two years that could save $376 over a $29 per month contract. A Virgin $29 contract includes a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 which is a fairly nice phone if you can deal with the short battery life and the fact that it’s locked to Android 2.1. An Xperia X10 can be bought on Ebay for less than $376 but the hassle of setting up VOIP and Amaysim will be more effort than it’s worth to save $100 over two years.
A couple of my relatives have phone contracts that are about to expire. I’m not going to set them up on VOIP as it’s too much effort for too little benefit and the dual-SIM phone really isn’t an option. I will recommend Virgin contracts with Xperia X10 phones or Amaysim with their existing phones (2yo smart phones that are still quite usable).